Whitby has successfully played its two strong cards, geography and history. Its position at the base of a narrow gully at the mouth of the River Esk gives it a natural beauty and much, though by no means all, of the town retains its historic character.
There has been a considerable increase in visitor numbers to the harbour because of its connections with Captain James Cook. Thousands of visitors crowded into the town to see the replica of Cook's Endeavour when she visited Whitby in 1987 and 2002.
The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, in a harbourside house where Cook lived as an apprentice, has recently opened a new extension. Shops selling Whitby jet, once a symbol of Victorian mourning, abound as do celebrations of the pioneer photographer Frank Sutcliffe. Bram Stoker's Dracula and a more modern literary connection with AS Byatt's Possession, filmed in Whitby. House prices, that more ominous sign of successful regeneration, have been rising rapidly.
The Whitby Abbey Visitors Centre, which stands at the top of the legendary Church Stairs, the 199 steps that take the visitor up from the town, is a reflection of the new Whitby. It is clear evidence of how good contemporary architecture can exist in harmony with the old and what good design can achieve in regeneration - in sharp comparison to the car parks and supermarket on the banks of the Esk below.